By Carol Cain
CBS 62 Detroit
“I have done more in one day as a police officer in this city than he’s done in his lifetime…,” Benny Napoleon referring to opponent Mike Duggan.
“This is how dirty this campaign has gotten, where you can just make stuff up…” Mike Duggan disputing Benny Napoleon’s claim that the former DMC CEO sent emails to Lansing supporting an Emergency Manager for Detroit.
And so it went for a riveting 60 minutes as mayoral candidates Sheriff Benny Napoleon and former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan took off the gloves and traded barbs that included some substance and zingers during their first televised debate inside the CBS 62 studio.
The two men – both Democrats – were the top two vote getters in August’s primary and are vying for votes in the Nov 5 general election that will determine Detroit’s next mayor.
The fast paced hour provided a fascinating look at them and their views on the Emergency Manager, helping the neighborhoods, fighting crime, creating an environment for business growth, race relations, their view of each other, and more.
Talk focused on Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who was put in place under a state law supported by Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP led legislature to address the financial woes of the Motor City. Detroit filed for bankruptcy under Orr’s watch.
“I campaigned vigorously against the EM as I did against Right To Work (which also went into effect the same day as EM law in March). I am a history major, I know the struggle of the civil rights movement,” said Napoleon. “This is the most offensive assault on democracy since the American Revolution.”
“I have no plan to work with Kevyn Orr. My goal is to get rid of Kevyn Orr,” Napoleon added. Napoleon also said that Duggan sent emails (to Lansing) in support of the EM, which Duggan disputed.
“Did you read those emails? If you had then you’d know I lobbied against the EM. I talked with Dennis Muchmore (Gov. Snyder’s Chief of Staff), (former state treasurer) Andy Dillon, and Rich Baird (Snyder’s chief strategist) and told them ‘you can’t do this and disenfranchise the voters of Detroit.’ I was against the EM.”
When asked about working with the EM, Duggan said: “Kevyn Orr (who by state law will be around at least six months after the new mayor takes over in January) is going to take away the pension rights of retirees, selling off assets like the water department. I will try to engage with him or go right to bankruptcy to say we do not have to sell off our assets or take away retiree rights. “If (Orr does not engage back) then it be an adversarial relationship,” Duggan added.
Napoleon talked about his $3.5 billion neighborhood revitalization plan which includes police stations and shopping malls. Duggan questioned where the funding for his plan would come from.
“The last time he (Napoleon) had a vision – it was when he went before the Wayne County Commission to talk about a new jail and how it would save money,” said Duggan. “It was senseless and he didn’t do his homework. The jail is $100 million over budget…”
On the issue of crime, Napoleon said to Duggan: “Until you get out from behind the desk on the 11th floor of Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, put on a bullet proof vest, carry a glock (gun) and walk the streets, you’re not equipped to tell anyone how to fight crime.”
Duggan said: “Where is your crime fighting plan, sheriff? Feel free to start. You’ve been there four years. When you ran for sheriff you said you’d make us safer. Yet, there hasn’t been a single initiative.”
This debate was sponsored by CBS 62 along with sister radio station, WWJ Newsradio 950, and the Michigan Chronicle. It aired as a special “Michigan Matters” and will be rebroadcast on WKBD-TV CW50 at 5 p.m. on Sunday Oct 27. It will also be re-aired on WWJ Newsradio 950 at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct 22.
I moderated the CBS debate and was joined in the questioning by political pundit Cliff Russell, WWJ Newsradio 950 Morning Anchor Tom Jordan and Michigan Chronicle Senior Editor Bankole Thompson.
(You can watch a repeat of the “Michigan Matters” special “The Great Debate for the Mayor of Detroit” on Sunday, Oct. 27 on WKBD-TV CW50 at 5 p.m. You can also listen to it again on WWJ Newsradio 950 at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct 22 )
(You can attend the next meeting between the mayoral candidates Mike Duggan and Sheriff Benny Napoleon at the Detroit Economic Club luncheon on Wednesday, Oct 23 at Cobo Center. I will moderate that conversation and Judge Damon Keith will be the DEC presiding officer. For more information: call 313-963-8547 or econclub.org.
(You can also hear what the candidates said at the Detroit Economic Club event on a special “Michigan Matters” airing 11:30 am next Sunday, Oct 27, on CBS 62.)
(Carol Cain is the Emmy winning Senior Producer/Host of “Michigan Matters.” She is a columnist at the Detroit Free Press writing about politics and business. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)